The Dogs of War

Raymond Bonner reviews Standard Operating Procedure by Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris, in the New York Times Book Review:

Screenhunter_03_may_24_1533After the abuse of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib was exposed in April 2004 by The New Yorker and “60 Minutes,” the Bush administration sought to portray the reprehensible misconduct as the work of a few bad apples. Seeming to underscore that verdict was the fact that soldiers took pictures of themselves, smiling, holding thumbs up, with the naked, dead, abused and humiliated prisoners.

Unfortunately, the truth, which emerges with painful clarity from “Standard Operating Procedure,” is that what happened at Abu Ghraib was not only tolerated but condoned and encouraged. Harsh treatment wasn’t punished; it was rewarded. When First Lt. Carolyn Wood of the Army was in charge of the interrogation center at Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan in 2003, she established a policy that allowed prisoners to be held in solitary confinement for a month, to be stripped, shackled in painful positions, kept without sleep, bombarded with sound and light. Three prisoners were beaten to death on her watch. She was awarded a Bronze Star, one of the armed forces’ highest combat medals, promoted to captain and sent to Iraq.

More here.